Notes from a Nonexistent Himalayan Expedition
By Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh
So these are the Himalayas.
Mountains racing to the moon.
The moment of their start recorded
on the startling, ripped canvas of the sky.
Holes punched in a desert of clouds.
Thrust into nothing.
Echo--a white mute.
Yeti, down there we've got Wednesday,
bread and alphabets.
Two times two is four.
Roses are red there,
and violets are blue.
Yeti, crime is not all
we're up to down there.
Yeti, not every sentence there
We've inherited hope --
the gift of forgetting.
You'll see how we give
birth among the ruins.
Yeti, we've got Shakespeare there.
Yeti, we play solitaire
and violin. At nightfall,
we turn lights on, Yeti.
Up here it's neither moon nor earth.
Oh Yeti, semi-moonman,
turn back, think again!
I called this to the Yeti
inside four walls of avalanche,
stomping my feet for warmth
on the everlasting
From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, where Robert Pinsky writes, "In the news, reports have appeared of a perhaps mythical, possibly one-eyed, furry creature: the Mapinguary. Whether the man-eating creature, said to resemble a giant sloth, exists or not, it reveals something about the human need to imagine a being profoundly other than ourselves that yet somehow reflects (or consumes) US." The poem above, translated from Polish, introduces a magical creature as "a form of human autobiography, wistful and lonesome, as well as scary." It reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson's wonderful Escape From Kathmandu, which involves a Yeti, climbing Mount Everest and discovering Shangri-La, though people are people everywhere.
And while you're back here and I'm talking about books, I shall confess that I bought myself both The Goddess Inspiration Oracle Kit and Michelle Skye's Goddess Alive: Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses into Your Life, both because they're illustrated by Kris Waldherr, and I am very happy...I connect with Celtic and Norse more easily than Greek, Middle Eastern Egyptian (less Jewish baggage, or rather anti-Jewish baggage) and although I have a Tarot bias when it comes to oracle cards, these are quite nice just as Goddess images. I love Waldherr's work. Also have obtained First Among Sequels (
We got up insanely early this morning to go to Breakfast with the Penguins at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. Younger son and his best friend -- who was still not asleep at 1 a.m. -- were wide awake and very chatty the whole way there. To our surprise there was already a big crowd when we got there, so we were in the later group for breakfast (eggs, pancakes, croissants, fruit, has browns, plus bacon and sausage that I didn't eat) and for throwing fish to the penguins in the water. Ascot, the penguin we met as a baby at the breakfast last year, is now an adult and still a "penguin ambassador" so he was waddling around on the grass with a keeper, and some of the other staff were showing penguin eggs and bones, showing photos of the nest boxes (there are several breeding pairs at this zoo with new babies every year) and running a silent auction, at which we won a painting by a penguin named Honkers. *g*
After we fed the penguins, we walked around the zoo, beginning in the African section since that's where the penguins are -- disinterested giraffes, chimpanzees with adorable babies and a lion who roared loudly all through the breakfast but had roared himself to sleep by the time we saw him -- then the Maryland section, which has a bog with local turtles and frogs, a cave beneath an otter pond and, at the moment, a bunch of African spoonbills and cranes who've been moved out of the watering hole because it's being renovated. There are also kids' things to climb on and a farm with goats that they can brush. And Italian ices!
Other penguins waited for more fish. It was 94 degrees, so many of the penguins spent a lot of time in the water.
Here are the people eating breakfast before the birds got theirs. The tables were set up in a lovely shady area behind sunny Rock Island.
This is Ascot, one of the Maryland Zoo's ambassador animals, with a keeper.
The zoo had an auction of art created by the penguins (at gala nights these go upwards of $100).
This is the painting we won, made by a bird who apparently prefers knocking paint cans over to actually walking around in paint. The money goes to penguin rescue.
We think the bird with her back to the camera is Honkers, the artist, since she has a brown wing band, but she was not in the mood for meeting her public!
Penguins are a big deal at this zoo. Even the carousel has one!
Sunday my parents are taking the kids to the Orioles-Yankees game (they had four tickets and I think were hoping